Yet another child has been sent home from school in tears after staff decided to humiliate him over something as petty as a low lunch balance. In this case Carter Briggs was not even out of money–Bonner Elementary School in Stewartsville, MN placed the sticker the child’s chest because his lunch balance had dipped below $8.
“To see your child cry coming home from school from something that the staff did to him, to me is just unacceptable,” said Chad Briggs, the boy’s father. “It’s obviously an invasion of your privacy that’s all supposed to be confidential and you know it’s bullying, it’s labeling, you know and it’s discrimination,” added Briggs. According to the Briggs’ son, other children received the same sticker.
The school asserts that the act of quite literally labeling kids is not meant to label kids, though. The school further claims that the child is under no obligation to accept the sticker. According to Bonner elementary, children also have the option of a stamp, slip, or nothing at all.
No matter what, the Briggs do not feel that the balance of a school lunch account is a child’s responsibility. “Why put our kids on blast like that? Like on label to have other kids be able to open them up to bullying and being humiliated because of it. Because of a parent’s responsibility,” said Krista Briggs, Carter’s mother.
The Briggs family plans to address the issue of humiliating children with the school board in an effort to enact change. “What I would like to see is you know, some sort of amendment regarding to the parents’ emails and if those fail, I mean, phone calls or direct letters sent home in an envelope with a stamp,” said Chad.
The school defends the action as an attempt to encourage parents to be pro-active with lunch balances. Maybe it’s working–“If you don’t keep your account balance well above zero, we’re gonna make your kid cry” is a pretty strong message.
While Carter’s school provides hot lunches to children even if they are behind, 46 Minnesota school districts immediately stop serving lunch if there are insufficient funds. More than half provide children with an inadequate cold cheese or peanut butter sandwich and a milk.
The practice of humiliating children over lunches has been a hot issue lately Recently Uintah Elementary drew fire from all around the country after it threw the lunches of children whose payments had fallen behind in the trash and replaced them with only a piece of fruit and a milk–an inadequate meal for a school day. Heads rolled and policies changed in the wake of the backlash.
In October, a California mom reported that her son had been humiliated with a “Lunch Money Please” sticker after he did not have enough to pay for his food.
At some point, we need to question the direction in which our society is headed when children are humiliated because they lack money to feed themselves, and the best solution one party can offer is to make them work as janitors (replacing union workers) to pay the balance.